MinJee Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea. She grew up in Goyang City, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, the same hometown as the famous Korean rapper Rap Monster. As a child, Kim was into sports such as soccer and basketball.
“I’ve always wanted to play soccer or any other sports in elementary school but no girls or boys would play with me. They were busy making fun of my appearance instead of being a friend,” Kim said. These early childhood memories are what made her decide to study abroad.
Kim attended an international academy in Thailand for two and a half years for elementary school and attended Chadwick International School in Songdo, South Korea for middle school. She continued her studies at GoYang Art High School learning poetry. Her decision to study in the U.S. was supported by family who had studied abroad themselves. Kim was offered to study abroad at New Mexico University, Florida University, Iowa University and Kent State University. After researching, Kim decided to attend Kent State for Communication and Information because it had an overall great rating.
Kim’s first impression of America and Kent was the friendliness. Seeing other international students, some from Korea like her, was comforting. Kim explained the biggest cultural difference was the nonverbal communication. In Korea it is very common to be expressive in body language, however, in America she was told she was overly expressive.
“Americans are very much to-the-point people. They speak with very strong voices with almost no nonverbal communication”, Kim said.
The hardest part of fitting in and adjusting was getting herself used to the different types of cultures within the U.S. Kim is currently taking Media, Power and Culture (MPC) a JMC class, where she first learned about the Rolling Stones. “The class teaches me that there is more to the American culture. There’s cultures within this one culture. In Korea, there is mainly one culture. Korea is not a mixing pot like America is,” said Kim. Adjusting to a country of many ethnicities and cultures has broadened Kim’s knowledge, and classes such as MPC have helped her ease into her new home.
Adjusting to western ways is a struggle she deals with even after being here for two months, but the toughest part is finding time to communicate with family. Kim tries to call her mom once a week and has a group chat with family members. She sends photos in the chat so family can stay up to date with her experience.
Kim currently plays basketball on campus and is active within the international community. “I don’t want to just be an international student who studies and leaves. I want to get the full experience, and be as active as I can”, Kim said. She will be speaking at the international cafe Wednesday February 12, representing South Korea.
Believing that everyone should explore, Kim thinks everyone should study abroad and travel. She even suggested American students studying in South Korea, but only if they are truly interested. “South Korea can be an amazing place for people who truly want to experience its beauty,” she said.
Brianna Canada is an international reporter. Contact her at email@example.com.